Champion trainer Farrell W. Jones, an eight-time Santa Anita leader whose beginnings in racing trace back to Seabiscuit, died March 12 in the Hemet area near his California ranch, according to his son, retired trainer Gary Jones. He was 84.
“He had a hernia problem and was hospitalized and got the flu,” Jones said. “From there, all his systems began to fail and it was just a matter of time. His body right now is en route to Malad City, Idaho, where he will be buried next to his mother. There are no services planned, to my knowledge.”
Jones, who was born and grew up in Malad City, ranks 13th all-time in Santa Anita training wins with 413. His son, Gary, is fourth with 576 victories. The elder Jones won eight training titles at Santa Anita, starting at the 1961-62 meeting, and several at Hollywood Park.
“I’ve been with the whole family,” said 52-year-old trainer Rafael Beccera. “I started with Farrell in the 70s and stayed with them until Gary retired in 1996. Everybody thought Farrell was tough, and he was, but I learned a lot from him. That was Farrell. He wanted to do things his own way and he was the boss.”
Jones, who started as an apprentice rider in California in 1935, exercised Seabiscuit during the time the Man o' War grandson was owned by C.S. Howard of California. However, he never rode him in a race.
Jones, who started in training with Quarter Horses in 1946, trained a number of stakes winners, including prominent racemare Manta. A daughter of Ben Lomond, Manta enjoyed her best season as a 5-year-old in 1971, winning such stakes as the Santa Margarita Invitational, Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica Handicaps.
Asked how he’d remember his father, Gary, the father of trainer Marty Jones, said: “He was a tough guy and a great trainer.”